Yud Shvat: The Tenth Will Be Holy
Sichos in English  

Shabbos Parshas Shmos; 23rd Day of Teives, 5750

1. Today is the Shabbos on which the month of Shvat is blessed. Thus, blessing is also conveyed upon the special day, the tenth of Shvat, the yahrtzeit of the Rebbe Rayatz, when “all of his deeds, Torah, and service, are revealed and shine in revelation from above to below...and bring about salvation in the depths of the earth.”

Since the Rebbe Rayatz is a nasi, his yahrtzeit is relevant to every Jew. Everyone, men, women, and children, should strengthen their commitment to follow the paths the Rebbe Rayatz showed us.

A yahrtzeit represents an increase and an elevation. This year, the fortieth anniversary of the Rebbe Rayatz’s passing, is associated with receiving “a knowing heart, eyes that see, and ears that hear,” regarding the Rebbe Rayatz’s teachings. As our Sages taught: “After forty years, one attains [full grasp] of one’s teacher’s knowledge.”

The fundamental lesson of the Rebbe Rayatz’s yahrtzeit is connected with the date, the tenth of Shvat. The Torah states, “The tenth will be holy, consecrated unto G-d.” Holiness has two dimensions. On the one hand, it implies an aspect of separation, as the Zohar states, “‘Holy’ is a word to itself.” Conversely, it also spreads to other entities. Thus, regarding certain holy articles, the Torah states, “Everything that touches them shall become consecrated.”

This concept is also reflected in the Yud, which is numerically equivalent to ten. The Yud is only a point, without any form or particular dimensions. It reflects the essential point that transcends everything. Nevertheless, this point also is associated with the point of concentration, which includes everything.

To view the concept in spiritual terms: The letter Yud is the first letter of (and stands for) the name Havaya, referring to G-d who is utterly transcendent. Simultaneously, “from the truth of His Being, all existence came into being.” This is reflected in the soul of a Jew (which also is alluded to by the letter Yud, representing the quality of chochma) and also in the Divine spark which brings into being and grants life to each creation.

Within a Jew’s soul, the letter Yud refers to the essence of the Jewish soul, the Pintele Yid, which is beyond all form, yet, at the same time, permeates through all levels of the soul.

Similarly, in each creation, the Divine spark is separate and holy, yet it grants life to the creation, reflecting that entity’s true being.

Based on the above, we can understand why the Messianic redemption is associated with the number ten. The Messianic redemption will be the “true and complete redemption,” the era when the quality of truth will be revealed. Similarly, the truth of every entity, the Divine spark which maintains its existence, will be revealed. This is connected with the quality of completeness also associated with the number ten. In that age, there will be a complete revelation of G-dliness in all matters.

In this context, we can understand the application of the concept of “ten” in our service of G-d. The purpose of creation is that a Jew should reveal the aspect of “ten” within his soul, his Jewish spark. He should then proceed to reveal the aspect of “ten,” the spark of G-dliness, in the world at large, by spreading holiness — “the tenth will be holy” — throughout the world. The ultimate completion of this service will come in the Messianic age when, “the glory of the L-rd will be revealed and, together, all flesh will see that the mouth of L-rd has spoken.”

The two seemingly contradictory aspects of ten — that it is “holy,” above and beyond the other qualities, yet it simultaneously permeates them all — also applies in regard to a nasi. The word “nasi” has its source in the word “nasa” (uplifted), as personified in King Shaul’s being “from his shoulders upward, higher than the entire nation.”

Conversely, “the nasi is the entire people”; a king is described as being “the heart of the entire congregation of Israel.” Just as the heart is the source of each individual person’s life energy, the king is the source of the life-energy of the entire people.

These qualities apply regarding all nesiim. Since the Rebbe Rayatz is the nasi in the generation directly preceding the coming of Moshiach, when we “taste” the revelations of the Messianic age, these qualities were revealed to a greater extent in him. Accordingly, his yahrtzeit, the day on which “all of his service is revealed,” falls on the tenth of the month.

A unique potential to carry out the service of “ten,” to reveal the soul of every Jew and to reveal the “soul” — the Divine life-energy — of the world at large, was granted by the revelation of the teachings of Chassidus. Thus, we are able to establish a dwelling for G-d in this world, which will be brought about through the service of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward and realized with the coming of Moshiach.

In particular, the Rebbe Rayatz brought about an increase in this service by:

a) Translating the teachings of Chassidus into other languages.

b) Disseminating Chassidus in America, “the lower half of the world,” where these efforts were broadened and expanded in a manner incomparably surpassing the efforts of the previous generations.

The Rebbe Rayatz’s name itself alludes to such activities. His first name, Yosef, is connected with the service of, “May G-d add on to me another son;” i.e., transforming a person who is an “other,” estranged and cut off from his Jewish heritage, into a “son.” This involves revealing the Yud, the spark of holiness, within the person.

His second name, Yitzchok, is connected with the service of spreading happiness and joy, as it says, “Whoever hears will laugh (yitzachak) with me.” True joy comes when the happiness permeates an individual’s entire personality and spreads to his surrounding environment. This involves not only the joy of the soul, but also the joy of the body; not only joy connected with Torah and mitzvos, but joy in every aspect of a person’s life.

2. The blessing and sanctification of the new month have to be reflected in the service of every Jew and motivate him to express new blessing and new holiness. Each month, his service must be renewed according to the particular nature of the month. Since the Rebbe Rayatz’s yahrtzeit is the most significant day of the coming month, the service of Shvat is connected with the concept of “ten.” A Jew must reveal the aspect of “ten” in his soul and in the world at large. This will cause, as we declare in the monthly blessings, “the Holy One, blessed be He, to renew” the month for blessing.

We conclude those blessings by stating, “Let us say Amen.” “Amen” expresses the quality of completion and reflects how the quality of Yud will permeate through the totality of existence. The effect will be all-encompassing, influencing even the lowest levels, which is shown by the omission of the prayer Av HaRachamim (connected with undesirable events). We proceed directly to Ashrei, “Happy are those who dwell in Your house,” connected with the Messianic Beis HaMikdash, the ultimate expression of “G-d’s house.”

Shvat is blessed in the month of Teives, the tenth month. Thus, the service of “ten” connected with Yud Shvat receives its blessing from the tenth month. This month also reflects the two contrasting expressions of ten. On the one hand, it is connected with the service of “the tenth will be holy,” which emphasizes separation and transcendence. On the other hand, there is also an emphasis that this quality permeate through all existence. To this end, the month is described as “the month when the body derives pleasure from the body.” The term “body” can be interpreted, in a spiritual context, to refer to G-d’s essence. Thus, the latter phrase can be interpreted to mean that Teives is the month when G-d’s essence derives pleasure from the Divine service that we carry out with our bodies.

This year, Rosh Chodesh Shvat falls on Shabbos. Shabbos grants us greater potential to reveal holiness and to have that holiness permeate every aspect of the world (the two aspects of “ten” mentioned above). In an ultimate sense, these qualities will be realized in “the era that is all Shabbos and rest for eternity,” the Messianic age.

Similarly, added influence is brought about by this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Shmos, which begins with the words: “These are the names of the children of Israel who came into Egypt together with Yaakov. Each man came with his household.”

Egypt, associated with boundaries and limitations, is symbolic of exile. Nevertheless, there, “the names of the children of Israel” are revealed. This refers to “the names of the children of Israel” on the earthly plane, for throughout the duration of the Egyptian exile, the Jews “did not change their names.” It also refers to the sublime spiritual names — including the name Havaya  revealed in the names of the Jewish people.

The Jews came “with Yaakov.” “Yaakov” can be broken up into “Yud eikev,” i.e., the source of the soul, the Yud (the reflection of the name Havaya), is drawn down throughout the totality of an individual’s personality, until it effects even his heel (eikev).

“Each man came with his household.” This led to the perpetuation of the Jewish people. Because they came as families, they “were fruitful, became prolific, and multiplied very much.” They raised children to proceed to “Torah, chupa, and good deeds,” encouraging them to build Jewish homes of their own.

The conclusion of the Torah portion is also connected with the above themes: Moshe protested to G-d, “From the time I came...to speak in Your name, this people’s situation has deteriorated. You have not [yet] saved Your people.” G-d replied, “I revealed Myself to the Patriarchs...” Furthermore, it prompted the revelation of the name Havaya (to which the Patriarchs were not privileged) within the boundaries and limitations of the world (Egypt), ultimately, leading to the redemption from Egypt and the giving of the Torah.

Similarly, each Jew possesses an attribute of Moshe within his soul that protests to G-d. “From the time...I [began] speaking in Your name... (i.e., practicing Torah and mitzvos, which reveal ‘G-d’s names’ within the world), You have not saved Your people.”

This prompts a twofold reply from G-d:

a) “I revealed Myself to the patriarchs...” This revelation is not only an event of the past, but is a present factor. The Patriarchs endowed their spiritual heritage to their descendants. Thus, G-d’s revelation to the Patriarchs is an active force influencing our own behavior.

b) He promises the revelation of the name, Havaya, which will come in the Messianic redemption. Then, we will be redeemed from exile (Egypt) and merit the revelation of “the new Torah that will emerge from Me.”

3. This Shabbos is also unique in that it follows the yahrtzeit of the Rambam on the 20th of Teives, and precedes the yahrtzeit of the Alter Rebbe, on Motzaei Shabbos, the 24th of Teives. The Alter Rebbe, the founder of Chabad Chassidism, opened a new path which allowed the teachings of the inner dimension of the Torah, which were previously hidden, to be comprehended through the powers of understanding and thus, reveal G-dliness within the material world.

This quality is alluded to in his name, Schneur, which can be divided into two Hebrew words, “Shnei Ohr,”  meaning “two lights,” an allusion to the light of Nigla and the light of Chassidus. The Alter Rebbe’s second name, Zalman, shares the same letters as the word “l’zman” and is connected with the concept of time. Furthermore, since this name is not Lashon HaKodesh, it relates to the gentile nations. The combination of the two names implies that the two lights of Nigla and Chassidus will be drawn down into our world.

After the Alter Rebbe opened this path of service, it was continued by the Rebbeim who succeeded him and thus, is also alluded to in their names. The Mitteler Rebbe’s name, Dov Ber, fuses both the Hebrew and Yiddish words for bear. Our Sages describe a bear as “overladen with meat.” The Mitteler Rebbe’s name implies drawing down the revelation of G-dliness to even this lowly, material level.

This service was continued by the other Rebbeim. The Rebbe Rashab’s name is Shalom Dov Ber. In addition to the fusion of Dov and Ber, the concept of shalom (peace) was introduced.

The Rebbe Rayatz carried this service further. As explained earlier, his first name, Yosef, refers to the transformation of a person who is estranged into a “son.” His second name, Yitzchok, refers to an all-encompassing joy, a happiness that affects both the body and the soul.

The power to carry out these services was derived from the Alter Rebbe, who revealed how to connect G-dliness to the world through Torah. He fused the teachings of Nigla (which involve the refinement of worldly matters) to the teachings of Chassidus (“the Tree of Life [which has no connection] to the forces of evil”).

The concept of establishing a connection between G-dliness and the world is also expressed in the opening phrase of the Alter Rebbe’s two major works, the Tanya and the Shulchan Aruch. The Tanya is based on the verse, “It (referring to the full scope of Torah) is very close to you.” Similarly, the Shulchan Aruch begins, “Yehuda ben Taima declares...” The name Yehuda contains the name Havaya. This attribute becomes “ben Taima,” which refers to a constant revelation; a person constantly expresses the G-dliness within him.

A similar concept can be explained in connection with the Rambam. He begins the Mishneh Torah with the letter Yud and states that, “The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a Primary Being and that all the entities...came into being from the truth of His Being.”

The latter concept is connected with the date of his yahrtzeit, the 20th of Teives, for twenty is twice ten. Twenty is also (numerically equivalent to and thus) connected with the level of kesser, a level which transcends the world entirely, yet is revealed in a manner which “brings about salvation in the midst of the earth.”

The yahrzeits of these teachers should inspire us to establish fixed programs of study that focus on their works; in particular, strengthening the commitment to the daily study of the Mishneh Torah (preferably three chapters a day) and establishing a fixed program of study in the Tanya and the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch. (It was a custom of the Chassidim of previous generations to study a chapter of Tanya every day before davening Shacharis.)

This service should prepare us to proceed to Yud Shvat with renewed energy, establishing a connection with the Rebbe Rayatz by studying his teachings and following his directives to spread Yiddishkeit and Chassidus outward. In particular, added potential to carry out this service is granted in this fortieth year after his passing, when we receive, “a knowing heart and eyes that see...” and it is possible to “attain a [full grasp] of one’s teacher’s knowledge.”

This service will hasten the coming of the Messianic redemption and the advent of the era when “Those that lie in the dust (including the Rambam, the Alter Rebbe, and the Rebbe Rayatz) will arise and rejoice.” May it come now, in the immediate future.


This Shabbos is unique in that it follows the yahrtzeit of the Rambam on the 20th of Teives, and precedes the yahrtzeit of the Alter Rebbe, on Motzaei Shabbos, the 24th of Teives. 



...this will hasten the coming of the Messianic redemption and the advent of the era when “Those that lie in the dust — including the Rambam, the Alter Rebbe, and the Rebbe Rayatz — will arise and rejoice.”


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